Housing Supply

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17 January 2017.

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Photo of Stewart Jackson Stewart Jackson Conservative, Peterborough 12:00, 17 January 2017

What fiscal steps he is taking to increase housing supply in (a) Peterborough and (b) England.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Progress has been made since 2010, with housing starts now at an eight-year high. However, the scale of the challenge requires us to go further. That was why my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced in the autumn statement that the Government will invest £5.3 billion in housing. This includes investing £2.3 billion in the new housing infrastructure fund, which will deliver up to 100,000 homes in high-demand areas, an additional £1.4 billion to deliver 40,000 new affordable homes, and £1.7 billion to deliver a programme of accelerated construction on public land.

Photo of Stewart Jackson Stewart Jackson Conservative, Peterborough

Does my right hon. Friend agree that supporting the off-site construction of new homes, as we have been doing in Peterborough, is one important way to get more good-quality homes built quickly?

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I do agree that we should explore the potential of modern methods of construction, including off-site construction. We should also ensure that the Government support new entrants into the market, particularly SME builders. The accelerated construction programme announced by my right hon. Friend the Communities and Local Government Secretary in October, which aims to speed up the build-out of homes on public land, will include an element of off-site construction. The Department for Communities and Local Government is actively considering ways of encouraging diversification in the house building market.

Several hon. Members:

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

As someone who chairs a national charity based in Peterborough, and also as the Member of Parliament for Huddersfield, may I back the people who have been saying not only that we need a more diverse housing market and better provision, but that the future must be lower-cost housing and off-site construction, and to a highly sustainable standard?

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I thank that we can agree on all that; there is a consensus on this point. We do need to build more homes. Building more homes more cheaply, but of high quality and on a sustainable basis, is something on which I hope the whole House can agree.

Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Conservative, Rochester and Strood

In my constituency, we face high levels of proposed new housing. Can the Minister assure me that that will be matched with increased investment in our local infrastructure?

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I draw my hon. Friend’s attention to the housing infrastructure fund, which demonstrates the Government’s determination to ensure that when new housing is built in areas of high demand, we also deliver the infrastructure to support that housing. That will have a beneficial effect by getting more houses built, and also ensuring that the appropriate infrastructure is in place.

Photo of Meg Hillier Meg Hillier Chair, Public Accounts Committee, Chair, Public Accounts Committee, Chair, Public Accounts Committee

For many in my constituency, home ownership is but a pipe dream, with more people renting privately than owning their own homes. What steps is the Minister considering to encourage private landlords at least to offer longer tenancies for these very many private renters in London and in Hackney South?

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

We look to put in place measures to support all sectors and all types of housing. The hon. Lady is absolutely right to say that private rented housing is a really important sector. However, I am sure that she agrees that we have to be careful about some of the proposals on rent controls that float around, which would be damaging for the private rented sector.